Book Quote:

“I doubted the soul-saving qualities of the comptor, for a sodomite sent to spend the night in that fetid prison could well expect endless hours of abuse. In such places, the time-honored tradition required that the most hardened criminals force the sodomites to consume large quantities of human waste.”

Book Review:

Review by Lynn Harnett (OCT 30, 2009)

Benjamin Weaver, Jew, thieftaker, and former pugilist, enjoys a certain notoriety and standing in 1722 London. As a Jew he is accustomed to derision and discrimination and has only in recent years come to bask in a sense of family and community. As a champion boxer he is a bit of a celebrity; feared and admired – a natural for the freewheeling, dubious profession of thieftaker, the 18th century private eye.

Weaver’s reputation and previous successes earn him hefty fees and allow him his pick of jobs. He has therefore turned down a risky, unrewarding, and illegal commission to burgle the heavily guarded headquarters of the East India Company for some office paperwork.

Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, his would-be clients have resorted to force, paralyzing the finances of his elderly uncle and two of his friends, holding ruin over their heads should Weaver not cooperate. And now, not only do they demand the ridiculous burglary, they order him to investigate a murder without mentioning the victim’s name or asking any questions.

Cornered and furious, Weaver naturally attempts to learn what his clients are up to, only to find his every move observed, his conversations overheard, and his friends deeper in peril. Forced to risk the life and liberty of others as well as his own, Weaver is driven to even greater feats of ingenuity and daring.

What Liss (and Weaver) previously did for the South Sea Bubble of 1720 (A Conspiracy of Paper) and the political struggle between the Georgians and the Jacobites (A Spectacle of Corruption), he does now for the burgeoning, scheming, powerful East India Company, not yet an empire builder but with ambitions in that direction.

The issues of capitalism, big business, justice, globalization and beyond have natural parallels to the burning issues of today but, as in all of Liss’ books, this state of affairs feels natural and unforced and is deeply interesting.

And, as always, Weaver takes us on a two-fisted tour of London’s alleys, taverns, whore houses (including gay brothels) and thieves’ dens as well as the feathered nests of the wealthy and the backrooms of the movers and shakers. Workingmen are a day’s pay from poverty and women a man’s heartbeat from the streets. The atmosphere is often fetid, the food and drink foul, but Liss’ London is vibrant with life.

There’s a woman, too, her smarts and skills a match for Weaver’s, and fans will hope to see more of her. The Devil’s Company is on a par with the best of his work, the Edgar winning A Spectacle of Corruption.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 49 readers
PUBLISHER: Random House; First Edition edition (July 7, 2009)
REVIEWER: Lynn Harnett
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
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October 30, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

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